As our nation addresses the challenge of improving academic achievement for all students, the role of evidence in shaping practice and policy becomes even more critical. The Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) program, sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education, has significantly advanced the quality and reliability of available evidence through its focus on producing and disseminating high quality, rigorous research.
The ten Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) serve the education needs of designated regions, using applied research, development, dissemination, and training and technical assistance, to bring the latest and best research and proven practices into school improvement efforts.
The current RELs, launched in 2012, promise further strides in building an education system in which decisions are firmly grounded in data and research RELs are working in partnership with nearly 70 "research alliances" comprised of education practitioners and policymakers at the district and/or state levels. In collaboration with the RELs, research alliance members identify specific, pressing education challenges in their region. Then they analyze data and conduct research to gain a more nuanced understanding of the challenges and to develop and test strategies for improvement.
The goal of this work is to build capacity to use data and research by:
Research alliances operating in each region are addressing critical issues such as:
Many alliances address the needs of subgroups, such as rural or charter schools, or special populations, such as American Indian, Alaska Native, English language learner, Pacific Islander, low-income, or Special Education students.